Announcements & Events
CEPA Forum 2021: Renewing the Transatlantic Alliance in a Contested World. September 28-30. The list of speakers includes prominent political and military figures, as well as leader of democratic Belarus forces Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. Learn more & sign up here.
According to Polish officials, an Iraqi migrant died after crossing the border between Belarus and Poland. This is the 5th reported death at the border area between the two countries. The EU, Poland, and Lithuania have accused Belarusian authorities of using migrants and refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan as a tool to retaliate EU sanctions over human rights abuses in Belarus.
The UN commissioner on human rights is concerned by the continuous deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus. Ms. Bachelet insisted that physical access to Belarus for the UN mission is essential for monitoring allegations such as torture in the detention facilities and other acts of violence against the political protesters.
According to Freedom House — a prominent human rights organization — internet freedom in Belarus has dramatically declined during the last year. A report, Freedom on the Net 2021, published earlier this week, states that the brutal campaign by Belarusian authorities against Internet liberty has led to a 7 point decline in the country’s Internet freedom — a drop that was surpassed only by Myanmar.
The Supreme Court of Belarus ruled to liquidate the World Association of Belarusians at the request of the country’s Justice Ministry. The Congress is the latest addition to more than 120 civil society organizations liquidated by the Lukashenka regime.
The UN Refugee Agency together with the International Organization for Migration made a joint statement earlier this week, calling for an immediate investigation into the deaths of people on the border between Poland and Belarus. The agencies have also requested access to those affected, in order to provide lifesaving medical help, food, water and shelter. It is highlighted that the current view within the European Union is that Belarusian authorities are behind “orchestrating the influx of asylum-seekers”.
Repressions in Belarus
In a timorous act of revenge, Lukashenka’s security forces detained 16 factory workers who participated in labor strikes following the election protests last year. Six of them remain in custody. The repressions that first started as targeting the union organizers, are now affecting ordinary participants as well.
Lukashenka commented on the arrest of 14 state employees, stating that the workers were passing on information to the Western countries about how the government attempts to circumvent the sanctions. Lukashenka said that these people are spies that harm the economy, and they must be punished.
As the war on independent media continues in Belarus, yet another website is set to get blocked by Lukashenka’s regime. This time, the regional news media website Grodna.life joins the long list of media organizations having been shattered by the regime in the last year.
Excerpts from the letters of human rights defender Leanid Sudalenka reveal some details about the closed trial currently underway in Homel. Leanid writes on his failed attempts to make the hearing public, the corrupt structure of witness testimony procedure and how three of his prosecutors “seriously believe that defending human rights are illegal in the country”.
Clinging to the remnants of his influence, Lukashenka attempts to fend off Russian pressure and resist overtures about the formation of the Union State with Russia. Putin feels no sense of urgency to fulfill his agenda. He believes that absorbing Belarus is just a matter of time, given how vulnerable Lukashenka’s stance is at the international arena.
Five years into the making, the future of the EAEU remains murky. Originally designed to provide equal rights to the union members, EAEU continues to be dominated by Russian interests. As a result, the trade intensity between the member countries still cannot exceed the levels set in 2014.
Belarus and the United States
In his opening statement Congressman Cohen, who presided at the hearing, said that the election of Lukashenka “known by some as the last dictator in Europe” was fraudulent, and called him “the epitome of an autocrat”. After hearing from distinguished panel of witnesses, Co-Chairman Cohen and Helsinki Commission Ranking Member Joe Wilson mentioned the plan to introduce a resolution recognizing the ongoing crackdown on important freedoms in Belarus and calling for an end to President Lukashenka’s continued repression of peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights defenders, political activists, and others.
Belarus and Russia
In what appears to be a coordinated effort, several Russian media outlets have released materials denouncing the promotion of the Belarusian language and culture in Belarus. The authors of these “Belarusization” articles argue that Belarus is indistinguishable from Russia and, like Ukraine, remains an artificial nation created in the Soviet Period. The latest propaganda push comes amid fears that Belarusians would want to re-evaluate their country’s history in favor of its European past.
The infiltrating FSB agents appear to be a part of the continuous Russian effort to infiltrate Ukrainian government structures and civil society. Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) is aware of the issue and is working to identify Russian intelligence agents while providing a safe haven for fleeing Belarusian activists.
Research Paper: What deters Russia
Statement: *ARTICLE 19, Access Now, IFEX, International Media Support and PEN America’s full statement on the interim oral update of OHCHR on the situation of human rights in Belarus at the 48th Session of the Human Rights Council